Noh Poetry 2021
Leaving cosmos for a simpler pastorale, pursuers of progressive pleasures locate delights closer to home.
Despite their famous sci-fi leanings, all the participants of this project have always had a soft spot for folk music, and it showed even on prog-centered opuses like "The Hollow Lands" where aural assault plays a pivotal part – which is why that album’s follow-up couldn’t sound more surprising. Acoustically driven, “Evolution Ritual” is an entirely instrumental record, so even the artists whose voices were heard on previous Don Falcone-directed works stick solely to their other performing talents here. The results of such an approach create a different sort of mystical air, soft pieces emanating warm aura – smelling of ancient tradition yet often giving off chamber aroma.
Of course, the project’s framework has dictated the obligatory presence of a few space-themed tracks, but “Alternating Universes” and “Strolling Into The Future” – the jovial former jiving to Theo Travis’ flute and Steve York’s bass and the playful latter dancing a hoedown to Albert Bouchard’s drums and Andy Dalby’s dobro – still feed this atmosphere that the album’s titular number unfolds in the solemn swirl of vargan’s hazy drone and trumpet’s blazing blare, all wrapped in woodwind and laced with guitar before Daryl Way’s violin and Bridget Wishart’s synthesizer fill the murky “Caves” with mesmeric mélange of baroque and raga. However, while David Jackson’s multiple jazz-jolly reeds march the groovy “The Laws Of Umber” towards a medieval fair, Michael Moorcock’s harmonica and Mick Slattery’s six strings drive “Abandoned Habitat” to a sad end of country spectrum, until another violin, David Cross‘, and Cyrille Verdeaux’s agile piano let “The Dream Find” soar romantically in slow-mo to the thunderous skies which the tamboura and four udus open in “Far & Away The Lands Escape, Bias Of Recency” to add a delicate drama to the proceedings.
Elsewhere the entrancingly serene, impressionistic landscapes of “Lookout Point” and “Outside World” make way for the effervescently unhurried “Your Better Angels” that Peter Knight’s fiddle infuses with adventurous idyll, only to find Falcone’s personal melodious armory that’s deployed on “As The Sky Was Being Painted” unobtrusively permeated with Alan Davey’s contrabass rumble and Harry Williamson’s 12-string strum, which also pours into “Spruce” to elevate its ethereal vibrancy. So when the nuanced theatrics of “Night Of The Moon Dial” float into focus, Don’s magnificent panorama feels perfectly completed, turning “Evolution Ritual” into something larger than a simple sonic experiment: rather, the album is a trip into intuitive, natural wonders.